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Issues about Racism

1. Justice Henry Blackmun (3), in his dissent in the case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (438 U.S. 265 [1978]), stated that "in order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently. We cannot -- we dare not -- let the Equal Protection Clause perpetuate racial supremacy." Justice Blackmun's statement resonates with this writer who agrees that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment has proven inadequate over time to ensure that true equality would be forthcoming in the United States or that the civil rights of all individuals in the country would be protected (Hall, 257).

Indeed, the Equal Protection Clause, in the view of Hall (257), protected civil rights as understood as the right to own property, make contracts, and appear as a witness in court. It did not necessarily embrace equal political rights and specifically did not address social rights. Consequently, the United States government has found it necessary over time to revisit questions regarding civil rights in the form not only of legislation such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but also in the form of government policies and programs meant to redress inequities in American society.

Among these one must include affirmative action programs which Hall (20) notes that have been developed to address the disparate impact of discrimination upon different groups. One must consider race and the way it operates or is perceived in order to eliminate racism. It is patently foolish to assume that a failure to discuss race or recognize it will end racism on either the institutional or the individual level. Justice Blackmun's (3) statement reflects his belief that government needed to consider race in order to providd relief to thosd individuals suffering from inequality of opportunity and that this was a necessity if the country...

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